13 May 2019

Crafting Waste – An Exploration in Consumerism

| Emma Batchelor

A bench, lamps, and hanging lights fill a warm and airy space. You can almost see someone curling up on a colourful ottoman to read under the lamplight. However, when you examine each of these ubiquitous household objects more closely you will find that they are not quite what they seem. They are in fact made up of disparate commonplace items cobbled together to recreate the familiar.

Crafting Waste, an engaging exhibition by Canberra based artist, Niklavs Rubenis, examines consumerism and waste. ‘Waste is a constant and is reliable,’ explains Niklavs. ‘When you start looking at something like waste, it opens your eyes to just how mammoth the issue is and how much of it exists in our environment. There is so much stuff around. We have somehow grown immune to this and the fact that many things we use on a daily basis are designed to be once only in use – non-permanent applications made from permanent materials.’

In this exhibition discarded food tins have been re-appropriated into a lamp; unwanted clothes have been fashioned into an ottoman. ‘I had a loose idea of creating a domestic setting – a “lounge room” of sorts. Most of the materials or objects reused in the exhibition are a byproduct of domesticity – it made sense to reimagine this somehow.’ The image of a family settling down to relax in the intimate environment Niklavs has created readily springs to mind.

In creating this space, Niklavs has indeed taken old, unwanted ‘stuff’ and made it useful again. ‘Me making more “stuff” from other “stuff” is not going to solve the problem [of excessive consumerism], but at the very least the exhibition might challenge a few conventions and start a conversation about looking twice at that stuff we throw away.

Read a full interview with Niklavs Rubenis to find out more about the exhibition, what went into making it and what informs his artistic practice here.

Exhibition runs until Saturday 9 July
Click here for details
Crafting Waste is supported by Rolfe Classic BMW

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